DIRECTOR: François Ozon

CAST: Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Géraldine Pailhas, Charlotte Rampling, Hanna Schygulla, Éric Caravaca, Grégory Gadebois, Jacques Nolot, Laëtitia Clément

RUNNING TIME: 113 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: After suffering a stroke, an elderly father (Dussollier) asks his daughter (Marceau) to help end his life…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Despite spotlighting a lot of his movies as previews on this website over the years, I’ve not really had the opportunity to actually take a look at the work of French filmmaker François Ozon (the only one, beside Everything Went Fine, that I can think of that I’ve given a review for was his 2018 psychological drama L’Amant Double). However, from what I remember about that film, as well as from watching this new one, Ozon certainly has an interesting approach to his material, one that presents his characters as real flawed humans in real (and sometimes surreal) situations that are just as astoundingly human as the actual people we’re meant to be following.

You certainly get that impression in Everything Went Fine, Ozon’s film adaptation of the late Emmanuèle Bernheim’s autobiographical novel Everything Went Well, which like the movie inspired by it tackles some very heavy and often upsetting themes that are almost bound to silently move anyone who’s been in a tricky scenario like this one (albeit, perhaps not to the extreme ends that this movie arguably promotes).

The film begins as Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau) receives a call from her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas), who informs her that their father André (André Dussollier) has been hospitalised following a stroke, which has left the elderly André partially paralysed and without the use of his right arm. As the two sisters try to keep their father occupied in between several hospital visits, a depressed André decides that he does not want to spend the rest of his days as an invalid, and implores them to seek out methods that will ultimately end his suffering. So begins Emmanuèle’s quest to arrange for her father to visit a clinic in Switzerland that will give him all he needs to end his own life, which involves hefty legal proceedings, dealing with uncooperative close ones, and a devastating confrontation of her own troubled relationship with her father.

Whether or not you approve of the arguably controversial assisted suicide method is far from the point that Ozon is making with Everything Went Fine; granted, it’s a major factor in the narrative as well as a driving force for most of the drama, but this is much more of an intimate family melodrama than its subject matter lets on. Ozon places firm focus on the character of Emmanuèle and how, influenced by an unsympathetic childhood (which we occasionally see in flashbacks), both she and her sister see their father as something of a tyrant who made their lives, as well as that of his ailing wife Claude (Charlotte Rampling), an uneasy place to grow up in. Ironically, the closer they get to organising his death, the more they seem to actually start respecting him as the harsh but focused man he truly is, which allows for some tender family moments between these sisters and their father which range from bitingly cruel to absolutely heart-breaking.

Ozon really captures the heavy toll that this father’s decision is having on his closest offspring, and the understated performances also do well to prevent things from going too far into melodramatic territory. André Dussollier spends the entire movie in near-total paralysis, but that doesn’t stop the actor from displaying a surprising wide range of emotions that make you understand why he’s deciding on this particular method, regardless of whether it’s something you personally agree with. Although she isn’t in the film that much, Charlotte Rampling also leaves enough of an impression to make you curious as to what her own deal is, and why she would choose to spend most of her life with someone who was apparently kind of a dick for most of their marriage. But this is Sophie Marceau’s movie, and the former Bond girl (she was Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough) brings a magnetically human presence to an already grounded narrative, with a strong emphasis on her natural ability to appear charming and open enough to hide the conflicted emotions that slowly come bubbling to her character’s surface.

Sometimes, the movie struggles with tone – a last-minute run-in with the authorities suddenly turns things into a zany slapstick comedy for about five minutes – but by and large Everything Went Fine keeps its focus mostly on the ball, offering a grounded and formidable drama that tackles a serious issue with heart and surprising warmth, while also exploring the many pros and cons of such a controversial procedure. It probably isn’t for the most sensitive of hearts, though there’s no reason to avoid the movie entirely either.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Everything Went Fine is an emotional family drama by filmmaker François Ozon, who brings his impressively human touch to the difficult topic of assisted suicide and finds the tender emotional core within the heart-breaking family dynamics, conveyed through some strong performances by the likes of Sophie Marceau and André Dussollier which just about carry the movie, even when it occasionally struggles with overall tone.

Everything Went Fine is now showing in cinemas nationwide – click here to find a screening near you!

It is also available to rent exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema.

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